Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Orioles 10 White Sox 3

I suppose the headline on this game could be: "Markakis, Huff and the boys from Norfolk help O's break skid."

Brad Bergeson got it done in his first career start for the Orioles and the team snapped a 5-game losing streak. The youngster, called up from Norfolk to take Alfredo Simon's spot in the rotation, pitched a solid 5 2/3 innings for the win. Bergeson didn't have overpowering stuff, but he was around the plate and kept the Palehosers off-balance all night. And when he did run into trouble in the 4th and 5th innings, when the White Sox took a 3-2 lead, he didn't panic and kept it to a one-run deficit. The thing that stood out the most about Bergeson's performance tonight, besides a wicked tailing fastball, was his poise. He certainly got a test early in the 1st inning, as Sox slugger Carlos Quentin was battling Bergeson, hitting foul ball after foul ball. Many a young pitcher would have gotten frustrated and lofted a meatball up there that Quentin would have deposited into the bleachers. But Bergeson hung in there, kept making tough pitches and got Quentin to whiff to end the inning.

The side story to Bergeson's first outing was the reawakening of the Oriole bats after being held in check for two straight games. Aubrey Huff launched his first bomb in the first inning, crushing a Jose Contreras offering into the terrace boxes in right field. Then, after the Sox had taken the lead, the O's started taking the Windy City lads to the woodshed, scoring two runs in each of the next 4 innings to turn this one into a rout. They first managed to tie the game when Brian Roberts walked, moved to second on a groundout and then scored on a Nick Markakis double. Two batters later, 'Kake would give the O's the lead for good, coming around on a Luke Scott single. Markakis was on fire tonight, finishing 4-for-4 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBIs. That $66 million contract is looking like a bargin, if that's possible.

The game saw mini-breakouts from a number of O's who had been scuffling at the plate, including Huff, who cranked a 2nd homer into the center field bleachers in the 8th; Scott, who went 3-for-4 and raised his average over .300; and Cesar Izturis, who went 1-for-3 but got things going in the 6th with a walk and stolen base before scoring on Lou Montanez's double. Izturis would add a two-run double of his own in the 7th. Montanez, filling in for the concussed and DL'ed Ryan Freel, was the other Norfolk callup to make an impact tonight. The only O's who continued to struggle were Felix Pie, who hit three weak groundouts to go 0-for-3, and Ty Wigginton, who went 0-for-5 with a costly error at 3rd base.

The bullpen looked very sharp tonight, as the O's were able to use three of their strongest relievers so far this season - Danys Baez, Chris Ray and Jim Johnson - to kill any hopes of a Sox comeback.

Still, the story of the game was Bergeson, who is hopefully a harbinger of things to come from the O's farm system. I do not have any delusions of grandeur that the O's are going to make any noise this year. All I ask is that the team be competitive and show some hope for the future. And if we are going to lose, I'd much rather lose with young guys like Bergeson than with retreads like Mark Hendrickson and Adam Eaton. There's a reason those guys have bounced around the league. It's because they aren't very good. The lesson from this season, I suppose, is that we're going to have to put up with the Eaton's and Hendrickson's while we await the promise of the Bergeson's. By this summer, hopefully we will be seeing more of the latter than the former.

So, as Michael Reghi used to say, you can book this one to the Orioles. The O's can get back into that series-winning mode they were on before by winning tomorrow night. It will be Jeremy Guthrie against John Danks. Until then, if you like an Orioles win, give me a FUCK YEAH!

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